Ward 19

Harbord separated bike lanes get mostly positive reception from residents and business

Residents and business owners alike showed up on a rainy Monday night to discuss the City's plan to install separated bike lanes on Harbord. The section in focus this night was between Bathurst and Spadina (the full plan is for separated bike lanes from Parliament to Ossington). As one resident noted she was pleasantly surprised that the meeting did not degenerate into a shouting match, but that everyone had a chance to voice their opinions which provided for a fruitful discussion on a controversial subject. (Photo of Terrazza Bicycle Park courtesy of Dandyhorse Magazine. Terrazza is a bit further west on Harbord but don't they have awesome bike parking?)

The meeting was organized by Tim Grant of the Harbord Village Residents Association and co-sponsored by the Harbord Village BIA and the Ward 20 and 19 groups of Cycle Toronto. Cycling department manager Dan Egan spoke as did the Cycle Toronto ward groups (I was one of the co-presenters along with Nico). The City highlighted the features of a bidirectional cycle track that they think would be the best option for Harbord and Hoskin. It would have the advantage of minimizing the loss of parking to only 20 spots between Bathurst and Spadina. The City would work towards off-setting those lost spots with off-street parking in the area.

In our ward groups presentation we emphasized the positive affect cycle tracks have had in reducing injuries, increasing retail sales of area business (as found in New York and elsewhere) and that Harbord has the opportunity to attract business by being seen as a hub of cycling. Instead of fighting it, celebrate. There are a lot of cyclists who take Harbord. By the City's numbers about 20% of the traffic on Harbord are bicycles. We can confirm that with our own rush-hour numbers where the percentage of traffic that were cyclists climbed to 30%. Compare that to Amsterdam where 38% of all trips are made by bike. Toronto's average share is only 1.7%. Harbord Village looks a lot more like Amsterdam than it looks like the rest of Toronto.

The owner of the Harbord Bakery, Goldie Kosower, appeared to be apprehensive of the bike lanes as did some other business owners. Bike lanes had previously been blocked by the local councillors because of the BIA's worry of lost parking. But now there seemed to be grudging acceptance so long as their needs were accommodated in the plan. Fears may have been assuaged by news that the plan would mean only 20 spots would be lost on the north side and that the City would work on providing more off-street parking.

There was some passion among some residents for the separation, including a father and daughter who cycle the street daily. The father stressed that the only safe option is physical separation for his children. A younger woman had recently returned from Amsterdam and wants bicycle infrastructure in Toronto that is safe enough for her mother to use.

Towards the end of the night Councillor Adam Vaughan appeared (he was delayed because of dealing with media regarding a shooting death on College). Vaughan said:

When we build bike lanes they must be separated. Painted lanes are good but aren't safe enough. My son, who bikes, needs the separation to be safe. But we don't have to do it overnight. We should sit down with businesses and planners to come up with a design. Harbord is critically important. It's a complex conversation. We might not get it all done at the same time.

People in this neighbourhood cycle but they don't do it safely. We don't accept it for drivers, nor for pedestrians, but we accept lack of safety for cyclists. We need to change that.

Some opposition came from Bike Joint owner Derek Chadbourne, who said he found the newly separated Sherbourne bike lanes terrible and thought Harbord was working fine as it is. He was also concerned about delivery truck access to his bike store on Harbord, asking where they would park once the separated bike lane was installed. Currently the delivery trucks stop in the painted bike lane in front of his shop.

No doubt, delivery truck access is a tough nut. Stores need to get their goods, and trucks need to be able to park not too far from the store. But blocking bike lanes is not popular amongst cyclists. Perhaps it would be possible to turn some of the parking on the south side into loading zones, or to come up with a sensible "curb management policy" that would allow the City to deal with the delivery access problem in a smart way not just on Harbord but for all parts of the city.

Or perhaps someone could always be available to create a "guaranteed bike lane" whenever a delivery truck blocks the bike lane.

Volunteers needed for community bike project

The following notice comes from Gabrielle Langlois, Davenport West Bike Project Coordinator at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre:

Hi,

I am writing to let you know about a new health promotion initiative in the Davenport west area.

The Davenport West bike project aims to create/further develop bike culture and increase physical activity and awareness that physical activity can help improve health and well being. We ran a successful pilot this past summer (13 free bike clinics) and with new funding from the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport, will run a more developed project until the fall of 2011. From Dec. 2010 to March 2011 it will include training for volunteers (bike repair, health promotion, healthy eating, safe riding/injury prevention), and in the spring/summer of 2011 will include free community bike clinics and community rides.

Karen Sun Is The One!!! (For Ward 19)

The most important election facing Toronto is this Monday. A lot of people that I have talked to still are not sure who they are voting for or even who is running. Lawns and windows are festooned with political signs with names that are somehow familiar and then not so familiar. So who do you vote for?

Now I am not talking about the mayor’s race. My prediction is that some guy is going to make it in and they are not going to do nearly as much as they promised. So now that we got that out of the way let us focus on the more important race, the ward race.

The Mayor only has one vote, as does your councilor so it is doubly important to put your vote that matches your way of thinking. Councilors are way more accessible then your average Mayor and easier to hunt down and confront if they do not do what they promised to do.

I live in Ward 19 and there are a lot of great people running. We are blessed with a great group of candidates who on their own rights would make excellent councilors. After talking with the candidates and looking at their platforms, I am putting my vote behind Karen Sun.

Karen Sun is the best person to defend our cycling infrastructure, our parks and make the streets safe for all users. She understands the importance of a well funded transit system, she knows that Subways are not the silver bullet to our transit woes and that Queen and King streetcars carry more people during rush hour then Highway 401.

Feedback: Martin Goodman Trail

As a member of the newly-formed Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee, I will be attending a meeting next week with Antonio Medeiros, a project manager at Waterfront Toronto. He is working on the design for the Martin Goodman Trail at Ontario Place that will run along the south side of Lakeshore Drive directly south of Exhibition Place.

The Waterfront Toronto team is at the beginning stages of the design work and are hoping for some cyclist feedback and thoughts about the project. In particular, the design team is concerned with safely accommodating multiple trail users, as well as creating safe and easy-to-navigate intersections where vehicular traffic must intersect. Please read the following description of the project, as it stands now, and post your comments. This project is already approved and will be completed quickly, with or without cyclists’ input. The more ideas I can bring to the table at this time, the better. Thanks for contributing!

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